I try to write my siblings at the end of every month (it came a little late this month). This is what I wrote about.
Gift idea: print out a map of the United States and label the names of the states and their capitals. Color it or let your child color it (I colored mine because I like to color). There are multiple things you can do with this.
1. Show the child where you live (only the name of the state and city, no specifics)
2. Show the child where extended family lives (I only did the state and no other specifics)
3. Show the child past places you have lived
4. If you're a college student (like me), show where you go to college in relation to where you live
5. Show the child the states you have visited
I color coordinated. I colored the state I live in purple and outlined it in black. I colored the states where I have family in yellow and outlined in green. I colored Colorado purple and outlined it in blue to show where the Compassion headquarters are. I put a small x in all of the states I have visited.
What to write about: Again there are multiple directions you could go.
1. Talk about where you live. For example I live in Iowa so I mentioned how Iowa is known for agriculture, especially growing corn and soybeans and raising cows and pigs. I also talked about how I have family members that farm. (Including pictures of any of this is an added bonus!)
2. Talk about your extended family and the states they live in. I talked about how often I get to see my family members.
3. Talk about the states you have lived in and why you moved.
4. Talk about college and how that works (to live in one place but go to school in another).
5. Talk about a past vacation you've been on or a place you want to go.
Just be sure to not give specifics on locations in regards to addresses. Also, be sure not to talk to much about things the child may not understand or something that could make him/her uncomfortable such as the size of your home, things you own, wealth, extravagant vacations, etc. Try to keep things modest and relate-able. Also, the more pictures you can provide, the better!
What to ask: I always try to ask questions in each letter to develop the relationship. It can help if you put all of the questions towards the end of the letter or highlight them to make sure they stand out and increase the chance of them being answered.
Here are the things I asked:
1. How close do you live to your family members?
2. How often do you get to see your family members?
3. Have you visited any other parts of Brazil?
I also wish her and her family well and let her know that I am praying for her and some of the things I'm praying for (happiness, health, safety, and that all of her dreams come true). I also encourage her and say something to the effect of: "Keep working hard and never give up. God loves you and has an amazing plan for you and all things are possible through Him. I love you and believe in you. You can do anything you set your mind to. Dream big and never give up!" Then I sign off by saying "Love your sister, Carly".
Write to your child. Let him/her know they are being thought of and they are loved!